Photo by Mike Morbeck.
By Kyle Smith
Since Colin Kaepernick sat during the playing of our national anthem in preseason and after criticism led to his kneeling routine, the perception of the protest has changed.
Instead being outraged, radio and television voices are on Kaep’s side, but that does not mean they are in opposition to America.
At the third preseason game of the year, Kaepernick was seen sitting on the bench instead of standing beside his teammates on the sideline during the National Anthem. It might not be accurate to call it a movement at this point because he was sitting in response to his own discomfort, rather than with the intent of making headlines and encouraging other players to participate.
After being noticed in a picture that Jennifer Lee Chan of SB Nation tweeted, the news became national and the eventual story that it is now. He sat during the first two preseason games as well, but it went unnoticed because he wasn’t dressed out and didn’t play. After it gained national coverage, he said he was giving a voice to those who don't have one.
What began as his own silent protest has turned into an attempt to bring attention to the police brutality and oppression that minorities experience.
His reasoning makes sense as he said, “When there's significant change and I feel that flag represents what it's supposed to represent, and this country is representing people the way that it's supposed to, I'll stand,” but his thinking that the protest is “something that can unify this country” is faulty.
It has instead increased the divide.
It gives Black Lives Matter a negative connotation to people who just want the flag to be respected. It has created a divide between two parties that both want equal rights and shown Americans another way to separate ourselves from one another.
The problem with the movement is that it is distracting from the actual issue of racism. Instead of hearing about the Black Lives Matter movement, two sides are arguing whether not standing during the Star Spangled Banner is acceptable.
Instead of parents teaching their children how to treat human beings with respect across the board, they see Kepernick and company kneeling as the words that represent our independence are recited.
Francis Scott Key was a slave owner but like the rest of us, Kaepernick probably didn’t know that until after his movement gained speed. The second part of the song that we don't include in our pregame celebrations has been called a celebration of slavery. While it is up to the individual to decide what they think about the song, the NFL, MLB and most people who sing in respect to those fallen neglect the part of the song that is hurtful to people of color.
The song has been a constant.
The problem is not the National Anthem. The problem is racism, and there needs to be a shift in the conversation in order for anything to change.